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    The Festival of Future Creativity

    After the success of our internal Greyfest, we wanted to show a few of our clients and friends of the agency what we thought could be important to the future of creativity. 

    April 19, 2018

    The future is about great ideas, not data, social media or artificial intelligence, Grey London CEO Leo Rayman has told the agency’s clients at its inaugural Festival of Future Creativity.

    ‘The real future is ideas,’ Rayman said. ‘The only thing that will really win out are raw creative ideas. They are how we’re going to solve big problems – things like plastic in the ocean and sending people to Mars – as well as issues like getting children involved in the UN and teaching people to cope with their anger without resorting to violence.’

    In a month where Mark Zuckerberg had been quizzed in US Congress and Sir Martin Sorrell had stepped down as CEO from WPP, Rayman acknowledged that we are living in times of great change. While big questions are being asked in politics and society, as well as in marketing creativity, he urged attendees to look for the potential rather than fearing change.

    ‘For me, a lot of what’s happening is to do with the end of one era and the beginning of another. That’s a positive way to think about it – I’d love for us to feel excited about the opportunities,’ he said.

    The Festival also saw attendees treated to insights from some of Grey London’s leading innovators.

    Grace Francis, Head of Experience Planning & Design at Grey London, talked about how experience design changes more than just customer perception – it can change how they behave. She revealed her philosophy behind product development. ‘User-centered design is dead,’ Francis said. ‘I don’t think we should use “if you build it they will come” as a mantra.’

    Instead, she explained that nothing would get beyond the drawing board from her department unless it could be shown to be good for the user, good for the client’s business, feasible to make within a reasonable timeframe and had the potential to change culture.

    Data came under the spotlight in a presentation by Carly Martell, Grey’s Director of Data Strategy, and Nathan Gainford, who is the agency’s Managing Partner. They revealed some of the tactics used by Donald Trump’s campaign team on Facebook which helped him to the role of President, but then turned their sights on positive examples of data fueling relationships between people and brands including Volvo and Vodafone.

    ‘Data-driven creative is crucial to connecting brands with consumers,’ Martell said. ‘It must be consumer first. Focus on meeting and exceeding their needs, rather than chasing someone around the internet for six weeks because they looked at a pair of shoes.’

    She also reassured clients about the introduction of GDPR next month. ‘Permission is key. Brands that can harness relevance with bounds of preferences are the ones that will do well. It’s not as complicated as it seems!’

    Martell and Gainford finished by inviting their clients to present Grey with a problem and challenge them to create a solution.

    The third session was presented by Perry Nightingale, Executive Creative Technology Director at Grey London. Nightingale has a background in building websites, so is in the unusual position of being a creative who can write the code to make his ideas come to life.

    Nightingale explained his theory that 10% of what brands should be doing is investing in innovation. ‘These 10% projects earn attention, are original and entertaining and build brands,’ he said, citing examples like Grey’s award-winning work creating a razor for Gillette designed for carers to shave their patients’ faces; and the Red Nose Day swear jar app for Comic Relief.

    Attendees were given demonstrations of Google’s Cloud TPU semantic mapping AI tool, which can study Monet’s work and then create an incredible painting that looks just like a Monet – but Nightingale pointed out that it required human input to show it what to paint.

    After citing examples where AI is better than human beings – such as sentencing prisoners and diagnosing diabetes – Nightingale showed attendees Renoir’s Portrait of Jeanne Samary and revealed that the semantic mapping tool was not capable of generating portraits with convincing eyes. ‘That’s the five per cent of expression that our technology can’t replicate,’ he said – reassuring at least some of the audience that they weren’t quite yet redundant.

    The Festival also gave clients the chance to discover more about Grey London’s new partnership with Mediacom, called Humboldt Consulting – details of which are being revealed this week.

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